As the world celebrates Water Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), has urged the federal government of Nigeria and ordinary citizens to remember that Diarrhoea remains a major cause of death among young children. According to United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, Nigeria is among a group of 10 countries that are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources. Almost 63.2 million people in Nigeria do not have access to safe water; over 112 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation in Nigeria.
Globally, over three-quarters of a billion people, most of them poor still do not have access to safe water, despite the fact that the world on average already met the global target for safe drinking water set in the MDGs five years ago.
According to global head of UNICEF, Sanjay Wijesekera “Sometimes we focus so much on the big numbers, that we fail to see the human tragedies that underlie each statistic,” He added that “If 90 school buses filled with kindergartens were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Figures from 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) shows, 61 percent of the households in Nigeria have access to an improved source of drinking water. The results show an overall improvement in the quality of sources of water in Nigeria since the 2008 NDHS (when the figure was 56 percent).
Be that as it may, more effort is needed to achieve fresh water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The MDG target for drinking water was met and passed in 2010, when 89 per cent of the global population had access to improved sources of drinking water — such as piped supplies, bore holes fitted with pumps, and protected wells. Also in 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, which means that every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation.
However, this basic right continues to be denied to the poorest people across the world. Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and lack of hygiene affect the health, safety, and quality of life of children. From the above statistics, it is obvious that Nigeria may not meet the fresh water for all targets in the MDGs. Mechanism must be put in place to manage the cases of diarrhea that may arise due to poor WASH in the communities.
PSN- PACFaH hereby uses this medium to advocate and recommend that, there should be an increase buy-in/ support for zinc/low osmolality-oral rehydration salt solution (Zn/lo-ORS) in the treatment of childhood diarrhea. The group also encourage the government to incentivize local healthcare providers and private sector actors (Manufacturers, Importers, Distributors, and Community Pharmacies) to increase production, distribution and appropriate promotion of this essential Life-Saving Commodities –Zinc/lo-ORS.
Furthermore, that the Federal Ministries of Health and Finance, and in collaboration with the National Assembly, need to create a specific budget line in the Federal Ministry of Health for the procurement of the essential Life-Saving Commodities, in order to benefit from the proven benefit of Economies of Scale through Pooled Procurement.
The groups also call on the government to ensure the sustenance of the SURE-P Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH)/Saving One Million Lives Initiative through which funding for the procurement of these essential Life-Saving Commodities under the auspices of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
It is imperative that Nigeria commits to and implements fully the recommendations of the United Nations Commission on life-saving commodities for women and children ably Co-Chaired by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR and the Norwegian Prime Minister.